The Impossible Post – Trying to categorize social media platforms

Social Media Audiences Research TableThis post could just as easily been called, “A blog post that takes three minutes to read takes three hours to write.”

This is about yesterday’s post. In summary, it tells how you can’t match social media platforms directly to audiences. If you haven’t read it, check it out.

I started researching and writing that post in March and spent lots of hours on it before posting. It changed focus three times and most of the research was discarded.

I tried matching each platform with a typical user profile. Something like, 30-40 year old mother, college educated, middle income = Pinterest. That one is reasonably accurate, but can’t be done for the other platforms. The platforms are all too general, and different people use them for different purposes.

Lots of stats were collated in the process and it would be a shame not to share. So here’s the base table.

Facebook Twitter Pinterest Tumblr Instagram Google+ LinkedIn
Active Members / Total Members > 1 billion / not disclosed 140 million / 500 million Unknown 108 million blogs Unknown / 80 million+ Unknown / 400 million Unknown / 200 million
Age 18-24 (33%) 25-34 (23%) 23-34 (30%) Under 25 Unknown Unknown 35-44 (26%)
Gender Female (57%) Female (55%) Female (80%) Unknown Unknown Male (68%) – 2011 data Male (65%)
Life Stage Unknown Has kids (55%) Settled, family (50% have kids), buying house late teens/ young adult Unknown Single (42% versus 27% married); Student (20%) Unknown
Education Unknown No college (49%) Unknown Unknown Unknown Unknown College (50%)

Lots of the gaps come from generalized data not being released by the companies (ahem, facebook), or the data available being out-of-date or inconclusive. The Pew Research Center does some great work polling users to see their usage. Their research is limited by how they conduct the polls (via telephone), the rules governing polling minors (they decided not to, which skews away from Tumblr), and the size of their sample. For an international study, I don’t feel it can be statistically significant.

Other stats may be out there, but after several fruitless hours I gave up.

References used include:
Wikipedia: Tumblr
The Huffington Post: 100 Fascinating Social Media Statistics and Figures from 2012
facebook: Media Room – Key Facts
Linked In Facts and Figures (Infographic)
Pinteresting Enough: Who Uses Pinterest (Infographic)

Thank you to Matt Forsyth, Nicole Gary and Neil Parekh  for your help choosing which platforms and how to position the research.

PS, sorry for the silly-looking table. The site redesign is close and will make it look better.

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